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Since starting my Montessori course in August 2013 the biggest hurdle I have faced is adapting our Waldorf inspired home school rhythm to include Montessori materials and activities. The second biggest hurdle is my children’s age ranges of two and half year old twins and a four year old, managing the introduction of activities, “following the child” and then supervising the various activities. Unfortunately the course just doesn’t go into setting up a home school rhythm, occasionally the subject is touched on but you’re pretty much on your own. So I have spent weeks searching through dozens of websites and blogs, getting inspiration for bringing Montessori into our home.
Through this search I have discovered what does and what doesn’t work for our family. Structured times and routine DOES NOT work for our family. At first this really annoyed me. Why can’t my life be as simple as at 9am we do this and and 11am we do that… No, I have to have a rhythm that flows around Triple T Dad’s shift work that has no set pattern to it, two and a half year old twins, a rambunctious four year old and a teen. It has to be flexible enough that should it be disrupted at any time, on any day we can just pick up where we left off and not fall behind…which just causes stress and anxiety.
Our Autumn Rhythm worked really well for us and with a few adjustments and a little tweaking we can use this as a foundation to bring Montessori activities into our home school.
Beginning A Montessori Rhythm
The biggest impacting change since our Autumn Rhythm post is that no-one has a nap anymore 🙁 To maintain my sanity we have implemented Quiet Time, which is a work in progress with Strawberry and Ooffa!
Download the Preschool Home School Rhythm printable to inspire you in creating your own weekly rhythm using the Play Domains.
What you see on Preschool Home School Rhythm printable is my planning, for me. But life is not wrapped up in neat little boxes so how an actual day pans out can be a major variation to ‘the plan’. You’ll notice there is minimal reference to actual times, except for essential anchors that seem to hold the day together if we adhere to those times.
Our activity time is also known as the work cycle in the Montessori approach. In our activity time I have a ‘plan’ of activities I would like to introduce or a project to continue, however, the actual DOING of the activity time is completely dependent on each child’s interest. It is my role to follow my children’s interest, develop it and explore it. When they are ready to learn something else or their interest changes…we move on.
Recently I noticed Chook has entered into a sensitive period with wanting to know about letters so I am including in my planning alphabet activities. Strawberry is engrossed in pouring so there’s a few pouring trays on our shelves. And Ooffa, well, he likes to know how things work, so a bit of physical science is thrown in there!
Each week we focus on one letter of the alphabet and activities to explore the focus letter are based around a play domain. I also make available the Montessori materials relevant to the domain. A Cautionary Word: Montessori education is about following the child and their interests, so if Chook requests a tray or materials that aren’t in my planning we go with his lead.
Story time can happen at any point during the day. Every now and again I will use story time if we need to resettle and turn the day around 🙂 But sometimes the day zooms past so I have a designated time right after afternoon tea to read with the kids. I will often have a book that fits with our focus letter or our topic, so we will read that and I encourage the kids to choose a book or two that they would like me to read.
As I explore Montessori I am discovering that many of the Montessori materials and lessons can be linked to a play domain. The play domains were included in our Autumn Rhythm and I have found them to be the key to a fantastic home school curriculum for my little ones. I am now using the domains to plan what materials I will be presenting each week. Each day is planned around one play domain. I will plan to present or review an activity or material that corresponds to the domain of the day. However, once a material is presented it is freely available to the kids whenever they would like to use it, exactly as Maria Montessori stipulates.
“The objects are a help to the child himself. He chooses what he wants for his own use, and works with it according to his own needs, tendencies and special interests. In this way the objects become a means of growth.” Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child
The following are some ideas of what activities are included in each domain, but the lists are not exhaustive.
Dramatic Play – This area includes activities from the Practical Life Montessori Manual, imaginary play with role playing and props, felt boards and puppets.
Tactile Play (also known as Manipulative Play) – Blocks, Duplo, Puzzles, math materials, many activities from each Montessori Manual would fit in this domain, such as, The Pink Tower from the Sensorial Manual.